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Guns: a Reign of Terror

In his latest book, Tom Diaz, a former gun enthusiast and an ex-member of the National Rifle Association, the first chapter is appropriately called “A Reign of Terror.” When I obtained a sample for my Kindle all I had to do was read the first several pages and I knew I had to order this book. The statistics he reels off were what did it.

He begins by noting that from 1969 to 2009 “a total of 5,586 people were killed in terrorist attacks against the United States or its interests.” This number includes those killed in the 9/11 attack.

On the other hand, more than 30,000 were killed by guns every year between 1986 and 2010, with a few exceptional years when the total dipped below this number. In 2010 just five Americans were killed by terrorist attacks somewhere in the world, while 55 law enforcement officers were killed by guns that same year.

Diaz goes on to point out that each year more Americans are killed by guns in the U.S. than people of all nationalities are killed throughout the world by terrorist attacks (31,672 vs. 13,186).

The money the U.S. spends to defend us from terrorism is in excess of $1 trillion since 2001, yet according to one study Diaz cites, our chances of being killed by a terrorist are about 1 in 3.5 million per year; by comparison our chances of being the victim of a homicide are 1 in 22,000 per year. The budget request for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2013 is $39.5 billion compared to a request of only $11.2 billion from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (which also address the problem of violence prevention).

Diaz asks “Why is there no equivalent ‘war’ against gun violence, which takes and shatters the lives of more Americans than does terrorism by many, many times every single year?” And “Why do even many who favor some form of gun control continue to focus on ‘illegal guns’ and the prosecution of criminals instead of adding ‘a new paradigm’ of prevention?”

These are among the many questions Diaz addresses in this book. I will now continue reading this book. I encourage others to do the same.

Keywords: guns

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